Feiling asked the others to leave Soulburn Hall. Nowadays, it was much easier for her to meet with Tianming alone. They sat shoulder to shoulder within the hall. Though the snowstorm hadn’t abated, it was quite warm inside and they sat by the windowsill with wine warmed from a small brazier.
"It's really cold...." Feiling turned to look at Tianming with her beautiful eyes and a smile on her face, her hair pushed to the side of her head. She was a little flushed from the wine she had drunk, making her look puffy and cute. "I want a hug."
Tianming wrapped his arms around her waist and let her rest her head against his shoulder. Her scent wafted into his nostrils, ever so familiar. He had finally experienced what it meant to part for a short time that felt like an eternity. "Ling'er, do you know what makes me drunk the easiest?"
"The thought of staying with you now and forever."
"Urp...." She almost regurgitated the wine she just drank.
"Touching, isn't it?" Tianming confidently said.
"Hahahaha!" Her face beamed with laughter.
Tianming sighed, "Such are the woes of a man too handsome for his own good. Not to mention all that talent I have. It's no wonder you’ve fallen so hard for me."
"That sounds so reasonable that I don't even know how to argue against it."
Now that they were finally alone together, they didn't talk about the worrying things and merely enjoyed each other's company. Tianming tightly hugged the goddess that so many people revered, feeling the warmth of her body contrasting against the cold of the outside.
"I really want us to be like this forever, Big Brother," she said, biting her lip in worry.
"Just wait a little longer. After the Number One Summit, I’ll spend time with you every day."
"It’ll definitely return to normal."
"It will. Let's do our best together."
"Definitely." He gripped her hand tightly in his own. Soon, two hours had passed without them noticing. "It's about time that I leave."
The final phase would be the true ending of the summit.
"I’ll wait for your return, Big Brother." Her sweet smile and cute prayer gesture was enchanting, to say the least. The snow falling in the backdrop only made for an even better picture.
"Alright." He turned and left without hesitating or stopping. He was off to off even more of his foes.
The moment Tianming left Soulburn Hall, he saw Xuanyuan Dao waiting for him outside. "Greetings, Sect Master."
"You really are amazing, Tianming." There were many things he wanted to say, but couldn't, so all he could do was smile.
"All I can say is that I was lucky to have survived."
"No matter what others might say, I personally think you saved our sect this time around."
"The sect has given me much, I'm just fulfilling my obligation to repay it." Without Xuanyuan Dao's generosity, he wouldn't have managed to achieve what he had.
"Well, let's not bring up old debts. I have some good news for you instead," Xuanyuan Dao said.
"Oh? What is it?"
"I have a suggestion which all the tribulation elders have agreed to. During the last three days before the start of the final phase, you may train in front of Great Emperor Xuanyuan."
"Umm.... Does it have any special effects?" Tianming had been planning to spend that time in the Old Deepstar Path instead. Three days wasn't enough for him to achieve much, though, not even at the Old Deepstar Path.
"It isn't something that can be revealed. You'll have to experience it for yourself. If you benefit from it, it'll be your luck. If not, it's fine as well. After all, you aren’t a descendant of Great Emperor Xuanyuan, so that wouldn’t be entirely unexpected."
"So, there's something more special about him other than the imperial tribulation?"
"You'll have to find out for yourself. There's no point asking me, as not even I know what it is."
"Let's go then."
Tianming followed Xuanyuan Dao toward Heaven Sacred Mountain.
Xuanyuan Dao said, "What you did during the Nether Battle increased the solidarity between our sect and the other sects. There’s a much greater chance that we'll be able to form alliances with them."
"I'm glad I was able to help."
"Of course you were able to. At the very least, our enemies can no longer force us into handing Her Eminence over."
"Very well." In other words, Feiling was safe for now.
"However, the summit isn't over yet. Now, you’re our symbol. If you lose, our current edge will be gone and things will only get harder from there. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes. I can only win, I can't lose. Losing means the end of everything. The victory isn't just mine, it’s also a symbol of our divine realm's struggle with the others."
"It seems you understand that much. This trip to the Heaven Cauldron will be our sect's final gamble."
Soon, they arrived at their destination.
"Oh, my fellow poet is here," Ouyang Jianwang said, face flushed from his alcohol. "Sleep comes hard in spring, victory comes fast to Tianming."
"Come spring returns the frosted petal's luster, that’s when insects come to muster."
"A battle-worn armor, when polished, is bright and gleaming; Sect Master Xuanyuan's face, now refreshed, is bright and beaming," Ouyang Jianwang said to Xuanyuan Dao.
"Eternal prosperity or desolate loss? A look and I know that you should get lost," Tianming said with a wink.
"Dammit!" Ouyang Jianwang snapped. "I ain't doing this anymore! I won't open the door."
"Please don't! I'll come up with another then. On and on I pondered in thought, high-strung, but fathom I can't, someone better than Ouyang Jianwang."
"That's more like it!" He broke out laughing.
"You've got nothing better to do?" Xuanyuan Dao glared at them before stepping into Heaven Cauldron, followed by the other two. Soon, the entrance inside the cauldron opened once more, but not all of them were going in.
"After you go in, we’ll seal the door until right before the final phase. No matter whether you benefit from this or not, you must always remain calm. We're only trying our luck here, understand?" Xuanyuan Dao said sternly.
"Now enter." He pushed Tianming in and sealed the entrance with Ouyang Jianwang.
"How daring of you. You're the only person to toss an outsider in to meet Great Emperor Xuanyuan alone in your house's two hundred thousand years of history."
"Who said he was an outsider? Great Emperor Xuanyuan is the Progenitor of Humanity. Every human is his descendant."
"Fair point. Then there's no reason I shouldn't be let in as well."
"In your dreams."
Tianming landed stably on the ground. His surroundings were so dark that it felt like he had fallen into pure nothingness. Xuanyuan Dao hadn’t gone in with him, and there was no longer any light within. He couldn't see where Great Emperor Xuanyuan was, let alone the five dragons. Even after he tried scanning his surroundings with his third eye, he couldn't see anything.
"Where’s Great Emperor Xuanyuan's body?"
It was as if there was nothing here. He was quite taken aback, having hoped that he would get something huge out of this. I can't be hasty. If it comes, it comes.
He decided to walk around to see if something would happen, so he picked a direction and took out the Grand-Orient Sword. "Show me the way."
He knew that the feeling he got from the emperor was similar to the one from the Primordial God-Emperor, so perhaps they were related in some way. At the very least, they seemed to be the same kind of people. Tianming closed his eyes and walked with sword in hand. Even so, the sword only softly glowed, like a firefly in complete darkness. But at the very least, he was moving forward.
"The sect's survival hinges upon the results of this Number One Summit. Progenitor, this humble disciple, Li Tianming, is a traveler on the imperial path. My oath is to protect my subjects as a sovereign would. If there is chaos in the realm, I’m willing to sacrifice myself to quell it!" These words had come from his heart. It was the purest expression of his desire, and he would honor it by walking wherever his sword would take him.
Soon, a day or two had passed and he felt that he didn't have much time left. "I can't afford to panic. Even if I don't get anything out of this, I’ll walk this path to the end."
He took a deep breath; he was already quite proficient at regulating his mental state. By the third day, he occasionally began to worry and waver, but every time, he managed to calm himself.
"All I can do is to tread the path laid by my betters. The road ahead is filled with countless mysteries, but why should I care? I'll just walk it to the end!"
He shifted from walking to running as he put his sword away. He felt like a child running freely through the plains, feeling the wind on his face and enjoying the sights of nature. He felt alive, he felt free! His legs moved faster and faster.
"Run, run, run!"
His hair fluttered in the darkness. All of a sudden, a human voice sounded so loud that it shook his ears.
"Behold the dark skies, the golden earth, the grand and desolate universe;
"The waxing sun and the waning moon, the countless astral constellations;
"The cycle of water, rising and falling, the forming of dew that frosts the leaves.
"The golden rivers and jaded mountains;
"Grand is the Imperial Sword, soft is the night glow of the pearl;
"Dragon Master, Flaming Emperor, Phoenix Principal, Human Emperor." 
"Human Emperor, Human Emperor!"
When Tianming was running his fastest, he suddenly saw a bright flash. He raised his head and saw a sovereign clad in a dragon robe, seated high up on his dragon throne as he looked down solemnly at him.
"Progenitor!" Tianming cried. Great Emperor Xuanyuan had appeared! Behind him were the five dragons corresponding to metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, all of them also sternly looking at him.
He could hear their loud roars ringing in his ears. Countless draconic scales scattered from the five dragons, numbering in the millions as they piled up and shrank, gathering on his body and forming a draconic armor.
"Young man, tread onward with the Human Emperor's Dragonhide!"